Eggs are considered to be one of the richest sources of protein. Eggs are consumed in huge quantities all across the world. Due to their easy availability and affordability, eggs can be consumed by everybody in the regular diet to get a considerable flow of proteins and other nutrients. However, the problem arises when somebody turns out to be allergic to eggs. This can be a really tricky situation to understand as there are two different parts of the egg – egg white and yolk. So, one needs to understand whether they are allergic to egg white or the egg yolk or the egg as a whole.
Can You Have Allergy To Only Egg White?
To answer this question, it can be said that a person can be allergic to both egg whites as well as egg yolks. Allergy to whites of eggs happens to be all the more common.(1) This is a condition that can arise amongst breastfed infants if the mother consumes egg whites. One can have allergy to egg whites only and not have it with egg yolk.
This happens when you have the allergy specific to the chemicals that are present in the egg white like ovalbumin, ovotransferrin, and lysozyme etc.(1)
To begin with, we must understand what are food allergies? it is basically the overreaction of the human immune system to certain food elements. In the case of eggs, the immune system often wrongly identifies some of the proteins in the egg whites as harmful. This is when the immune system cells or the antibodies begin to start sending signals in the form of histamine release in combination with other chemicals. When that release happens in high quantities and continuously, several signs and symptoms of allergies surface.(2,3)
Symptoms of Allergy to Egg White
Some of the possible symptoms of egg allergies are developing a fever, skin rashes, throat tightness, coughing, red spots, swelling, vomiting, belly pain, diarrhea, swollen eyes, hive, and eczema.(2) In extremely severe complications, you can experience acute stomach pain with consistent vomiting. Patients can even require epinephrine injection along with emergency treatment to overcome the situation. It has been found that people who have acute egg allergy can also develop an allergy to food items of soya products, milk, peanuts, or dry fruits. These food items are high in protein.(1,2) Children with egg allergies can also become allergic to dust mites, pet dander, and grass pollen.(4)
Risk Factors for Allergy to Egg White
Certain factors increase the risk of developing allergies to egg whites in a certain individual. Any person who has a family history of food allergy can develop this type of problem. Children who have the condition of Atopic dermatitis can also develop the problem of egg allergy.(4) Children with problems of skin allergies can also be prone to developing an egg allergy. It has been seen that amongst children, with age their food allergies like egg allergies often disappear. This is when the digestive system becomes all the more mature and stronger and allergic reactions to food begin to disappear.(3,5)
Prevention for Allergy to Egg White
If you or your child have such severe allergic reactions to egg whites, you must practice certain preventive measures so that such a situation can be avoided.
Let us take a look at those preventive measures:(1,2)
- You must read the food labels carefully before you buy any food item; this is true for all your frozen food, packaged food, as well as ready to eat food. Go through the ingredients mentioned on the label and stay away from products that have egg in them.
- While eating out, be very careful of what you are consuming. Very importantly ask the service providers over there whether the dishes you are ordering for have egg in them or not, based on which you must make your orders.
- If a child is allergic to eggs, you must mention the same to teachers, babysitters, caregivers, and other relatives in whose care you leave the child for a considerable period regularly. They should not feed your child anything that contains eggs. Even better, keep everything ready that your child while you are outside.
- Use an allergy bracelet or give your child the same to keep others alert that you are allergic to egg white or other products.
- If you are breastfeeding your child, avoid eggs and egg products as much as possible. This can reduce the chances of egg allergy in your breastfeeding infant through your milk.
Egg allergies can be tested through various methods like a blood serum test or even skin prick test. In the opening of the discussion, it has been mentioned that eggs come with a lot of nutrient value. If you are unable to digest eggs then it means that your diet must be replenished and supported with nutrition elements that could have otherwise been derived from consuming eggs.(3) In the case of children, it has been observed that many amongst them outgrow their egg allergies by the time they reached the age of 16 or 17 years. However, if you still experience the symptoms of egg allergies, it is always safe to keep it away from your diet.
- Takahashi K, Yanagida N, Sato S, Ebisawa M. Predictive power of ovomucoid and egg white specific IgE in heated egg oral food challenges. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. (2018) 6:2115–7 e2116. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2018.07.043